Doug Winter: Among New Orleans double eagles, the 1858-O is most similar in rarity to the 1857-O. Like the 1857-O, it has become more available in the middle grades (i.e. EF40 to AU50) due to a group of coins that was absorbed into the market during the mid-1990s.
The 1858-O double eagle is similar in overall and high grade rarity to the 1857-O. It is most often seen in Very Fine and Extremely Fine grades. Accurately graded AU50 pieces are scarce and this is a rare issue in the middle About Uncirculated grades. It is very rare in AU58 and extremely rare in Uncirculated. The number of Uncirculated coins increased significantly after five were discovered in the S.S. Republic treasure.
STRIKE: Most 1858-O double eagles show a poor strike. The hair is not well defined, with the curls around the face and below the ear showing particular weakness. The hair at the top of Liberty’s head is sharper and the bun often has surprisingly good detail. Many are weak on the date and the first few stars on the left. The reverse is better struck with a lack of detail typically seen on the wing tips, tail feathers and the top of the shield. There are some coins known that are weak on the first S in STATES. The mintmark is sometimes faint and on low grade pieces it may be hard to see.
SURFACES: The surfaces are almost always very heavily abraded, with deep marks visible in the fields. This is an extremely hard issue to find with clean surfaces, and the few examples that exist without detracting marks are greatly prized by collectors.
LUSTER: The issue is often found with semi-prooflike luster. The fields are not entirely reflective, with a considerable amount of mint frost present. Many are worn to the point that they show no luster or their luster has been impaired by rough handling and/or cleaning. A small number have luster that is mostly satiny in texture. These are more attractive than their semi-prooflike counterparts.
COLORATION: The natural coloration is a medium green-gold or, less often, attractive medium to deep yellow-gold. There are not many 1858-O double eagles with nice color, as most have been cleaned or dipped. A few high grade coins are known that show superb color and these are extremely desirable.
EYE APPEAL: The great majority of 1858-O double eagles have inferior luster, heavily marked surfaces and show extensive wear. The overall level of eye appeal for this date is below average.
DIE CHARACTERISTICS: There is a peculiar horizontal projection from the top left curve of the first 8. This does not appear to be repunching. The bottoms of the letters ED in UNITED are connected.
MAJOR VARIETIES: There is a single variety known:
Variety One: The date is low and it slants downwards. The 1 is very close to the denticles. The mintmark is placed over the left center of the N in TWENTY and is very high, almost touching the feathers.
The blundered die variety mentioned by Breen has not yet been traced.
David Akers (1975/88): The 1858-O is rare in any condition and prohibitively rare in mint state. I have only seen two uncs (both 60's) and a small number of AU's. The overwhelming majority of known specimens grade VF or EF and the typical 1858-O has a semi-prooflike or prooflike surface. As a date, the 1858-O ranks right in the middle of the O-Mint issues (7th out of 13), just slightly more rare than the 1857-O and 1861-O.
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